Wave Hill Walk Off Trail

The Wave Hill Walk Off Route is a National Heritage Listed site that is associated with the events that took place in 1966 -1975 which saw the Indigenous Gurindji people, led by Vincent Lingiari, take a stand against oppressive working conditions and maltreatment.

The strike lasted for 9 years and was a catalyst of The National Land Rights movement. The strike ended in 1975 when Gough Whitlam famously poured sand through Vincent Lingiari's hands, resulting in the first hand back of traditional lands to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.

The Wave Hill Walk Off Route is one of only a handful of National Heritage listed sites in the Northern Territory and unlike other heritage listed sites such as Kakadu and Uluru, there is no interpretive signage or visitor infrastructure along this site.

The immediate outcome of this collaborative project is to develop awareness for the National Heritage listed route and increase visitor numbers and expenditure within the community. A series of pavilions and interpretive signage will be located along the Wave Hill Walk Off Route to educate visitors about the Wave Hill story. It will engage the local community, enhance the sense of pride and self-worth as well as offer short and long forms of employment to local Gurindji people. The project will also increase public awareness of the history surrounding the Wave Hill Walk Off and strengthen NT tourism by delivering new eco and cultural based tourism.

There are a number of research, teaching and engagement outcomes available to the Bower Studio participants from the University of Melbourne.

The research aspirations of this project are twofold.

  • Firstly the project builds upon the work completed to date and known as the 'HomesPLUS' initiative. This project aims to investigate techniques for identifying and responding to the domestic aspirations of Indigenous people within Australia. It aims to investigate methods for developing an integrated design, select, supply and install process that responds to the aspirations of Indigenous home-owner customers and also provides sustainable employment opportunities within participating communities. The program has been trialled in four communities in the Northern Territory and is being refined to have broader uptake.
  • The second research phase involves investigating and defining the aspirations of the Gurindji people as they approach the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Walk Off. This project works to answer questions about the most appropriate way to mark this event given its role as a landmark event in Australia's history. The Gurindji people have asked for support in their aim to mark this event (see 2016 Wave Hill, NT) but little research indicates the most appropriate way to identify the event in an architectural sense. This project to mark the Wave Hill Walk-off Route is a powerful opportunity to thoroughly investigate options for the high profile 50th anniversary event in August 2016.

Project details

Major Sponsor

Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation

Research Partners

Bower Studio
Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation
Karungkarni Arts Centre
Gurindji Language Centre

Project Team

Dr David O'Brien


Dr David O'Brien